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The Bleedinglips

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All was black.
Sullen darkness, like a scar on the womb of the earth, opened before his eyes. It was a place of blight; he could smell the wrongness that clung like slime to everything, even to him. He shivered.
“This place has been forsaken by the gods,” he whispered. Sweat dripped from his pores like blood, fear raging through him, a cold, brutal chill. He had to leave. If he stayed, he would die.
“Looking for something?”
He spun violently at the sound, heart beating so hard he distantly feared it was trying to escape. The voice was like the sliding of gravel, a whisper of stones resounding from the walls, the floor, the ceiling. And from his mind. He was silent, throat clenched tight and dry. But he showed no outward sign.
“Why have you disturbed me?”
The harsh tone grated his nerves. It crossed him, with a shiver, that it was no living sound. It was as if all the dead moaned, and the voice spoke.
“Speak. I cannot hear you in the quiet of your mind.”
He swallowed. “I’m looking,” but fear, like bleeding worms, choked him. He trailed off.
The voice hissed. “Lost something?”
“Show… show yourself!” he cried, voice echoing.
It chuckled, a deep sound, as if from the bottom of a well.
A scream threatened to burst through his lips, quivering. Inches from his own a face opened to him like a great eye. Pale as lead, smooth, sliced only by twin lips like blood, unnaturally bright. Burning, bloody holes, rimmed ash-dark, tilted, showed flat emotion, like the open eyes of the dead. A smile soured the corners of those lips.
“Who are you?” the lips asked. He could not pull his eyes from them. They were screaming to his earthly flesh. He was disgusted by his thoughts, feelings as if he belonged there. He wanted to die. He wanted, so badly to be ripped. To bleed.
::No!:: He shouted, keeping his outward face perfectly still. ::I want to live! I must live!::
“You do not answer me.” The voice was flat, gravely, strangely compelling.
The man looked straight ahead of him, at the white of it’s cheek. “You do not need to know.”
It smiled. Blood oozed from the cracks, dripped to the floor. If there was earth any more. He did not know.
“I,” it spoke, “Am known by many names. But this face is known as Ai.”
“The Bleedinglips,” he said, tonelessly, guardedly.
“How very creative,” Ai smiled sardonically, head tilted, flat eyes like discs of obsidian, glittering like the crystallized stone. A stream of blood rushed over its lip, spilling onto its chin, leaving a scarlet line like a burn.
The man swallowed his fear, a lump pulsing and quivering like a writhing mass within his throat.
"Take me," he whispered hoarsely. "I need to go where only you can take me."
The Bleedinglips chuckled, a low, emotionless sound. "I do not open the gates of the dead for living men."
The man closed his eyes slowly, trying to fight off the feelings of revulsion. His whole body rejected this place, this stinking pit of death.
"But I have to go. I told... I told her I would meet her there."
"Oh!" the beast laughed, sharply, lacking all emotion. "Isn't that beautiful? The devotion. That's true love, isn't it?" The tone it took openly displayed it's obvious lack of enthusiasm for the subject.
"Y-yes," he spluttered anyway. "Yes, y-yes, I told her I would find her - she made me promise. We were supposed to die together."
"The gates have closed on her heels, little lover," the voice, like an empty wind rattled. Almost a laugh. He felt the chill of dissappointment settle into his bones.
"But I-"
Ai repeated it, one more time. "The gates are closed."
A sudden bloom of anger opened within his chest and he roared, forgetting the rules of the emotionless face before him. "NO! I HAVE TO-"
"You irk me," the Bleedinglips said softly. "I tire of this silly mortal game. The gates are closed. Be grateful that I send you back. You will never have the ill fortuned to come across me again - no man does."
And then, as he struggled against the pull, the Bleedinglips smiled at him.
It threw him out again, out into the scorching desert. Sand whipped into his eyes, stinging and burning and blinding him. He would never be able to find his way home - and he would never find the pit of the Bleedinglips again. His last hope of rescuing her had vanished like the dew upon morning grass.
The feeling of desolation sunk into him like a stone, and there within him it burst open, and he let out a scream that would have broken the heart of the sun.





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